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Home » A Full Puerto Escondido Guide: Mexico’s Laidback Pacific Town

A Full Puerto Escondido Guide: Mexico’s Laidback Pacific Town

Puerto Escondido guide - featured image - Playa Manzanillo

Puerto Escondido is the most famous beach town in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The city is popular among surfers, backpackers, and also Mexican families. On this basis, here is a full Puerto Escondido guide for any type of traveler. 

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Welcome to Puerto Escondido: A Laidback City in the State of Oaxaca

With around 45k inhabitants, Puerto Escondido is the largest town on the coast of Oaxaca. 

Indigenous groups inhabited the area for centuries, and modern development only started in the late 19th century. In the 20th century, Puerto Escondido (“Hidden Port”) was nothing more than a small fishing village. 

In the 1960s, the first major roads connecting the coast of Oaxaca and other states were built. The road between Puerto Escondido and Acapulco made the town accessible to surfers and backpackers who wanted to get away from the tourism boom of the latter. 

Puerto Escondido slowly developed into a well-known tourist destination in Mexico, but it never reached the heights of Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, or Acapulco. 

As such, it’s still a relatively sleepy town on the coast of Oaxaca. In this context, Puerto Escondido has a lot more authenticity than some of the larger coastal cities in Mexico. Nevertheless, it’s lightyears away from the unknown fishing village it once was.

Today, several towns form the municipality of Puerto Escondido, and they all cater to different types of travelers. The area is world-renowned for its surfing, but there are lots of other top things to do in Puerto Escondido. 

To dig deeper, here is a complete Puerto Escondido guide. 

Puerto Escondido Guide - surfers and swimmers at sunset on Playa Zicatela
The waves on Playa Zicatela at sunset

How to Get to Puerto Escondido 

The first question you’ll ask yourself is how to get to Puerto Escondido. 

In this context, there are several alternatives, starting from both Mexico City and Oaxaca City

How to Get to Puerto Escondido From Mexico City or Guadalajara

If you’re in Mexico City or Guadalajara, you can take a short flight to Puerto Escondido. The flag carrier AeroMexico – as well as the low-cost airlines Volaris and VivaAerobus – operate this route. 

Flying is by far the easiest way to get to Puerto Escondido. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to Oaxaca at the moment. There used to be charter services, but these remain suspended at the time of writing. 

How to Get to Puerto Escondido From Oaxaca

Only 250km separate Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca City, but there is no quick way to travel between the two cities. 

At the moment, there are two options: you can take a 7-hour shared shuttle van (combi) or a 10-hour first-class bus. 

Villa del Pacifico is one of the companies that offers van services every hour between 3.30 am and 10.30 pm. Be aware that these shuttle services take the shorter, windy mountain road directly to Puerto Escondido. The turns are relentless, and lots of people suffer from nausea during the trip. On the bright side, the journey only costs 250 MXN (~12 USD). 

The first-class bus takes the longer route on the highway, adding at least three hours to the journey. Taking a night bus is the most popular option here. ADO offers services for around 700 MXN (~33 USD). This journey will be much more comfortable but also a lot longer and more expensive. 

Note: all of this will change when a new Oaxaca – Puerto Escondido highway will be completed in 2022-23.

Puerto Escondido Guide - panoramic view of families swimming and sunbathing on Playa Manzanillo

The Best Things to do in Puerto Escondido 

Puerto Escondido is a surfers’ hotspot, but there are lots of other fun things to do. As such, my Puerto Escondido guide covers all the bases for an adventurous stay in this laidback town. 

Head to the Best Beaches in Puerto Escondido 

Any Puerto Escondido guide will start with the city’s pristine beaches. After all, that’s why most people travel here.

Playa Zicatela is the largest beach in the city and one of the best for surfing. It’s a few kilometers long, so won’t have trouble finding a quiet spot here. Aside from that, the sunsets here are mind-blowing. 

Playa Manzanillo is a smaller beach in the center of Puerto Escondido. The area is a bit more family-orientated, and it can get crowded. Nevertheless, it’s great for swimming and sunbathing 

Next to Playa Manzanillo, you’ll find Puerto Angelito. Both beaches are similarly beautiful, and both attract lots of Mexican families. 

Another central beach is Playa Carrizalillo. To get there, you have to go down a steep set of stairs, and there are no boats here. Home to crystal-clear waters, this beach attracts young people. 

Playa Coral is a local’s favorite in Puerto Escondido. It’s located a bit further from the center and less suitable for surfers. In short, Playa Coral is one of the best beaches in Puerto Escondido because it’s a lot less crowded than the others.

Swim with Bioluminescent Plankton

When it comes to popular Puerto Escondido activities, swimming with bioluminescent plankton is definitely one of the best. You’ll take a dip inside a lake filled with glitter at night, a super cool experience. 

Several companies offer the trip. This tour costs around 70 USD, and you’ll also have the chance to release a turtle into the ocean, thereby supporting conservation efforts. 

Go on a Dolphin-Watching Tour 

Another unmissable Puerto Escondido activity is dolphin watching. You can find an affordable boat ride in Puerto Angelito. The boat will take you out into the ocean, where you’ll see dolphins swimming and jumping between the waves. 

See the Sunset in Zicatela 

Zicatela is an excellent beach for surfers, but it’s also the perfect place to see the sunset. You can have a drink at one of the many beach bars or just sit down in the sand and enjoy the golden hour before heading out for dinner.

Puerto Escondido Guide - Jack Krier in Zicatela at sunset
Enjoying a beer at sunset on Playa Zicatela / Jack Roaming Instagram

Kayak in the Pristine Manialtepec Lagoon

The Manialtepec Lagoon is where the bioluminescent plankton swimming takes place, but it’s also famous as a marine reserve with lots of bird species.

You can head there by taxi as the lagoon is located only 20 minutes from downtown Puerto Escondido. On-site, you can rent a kayak and paddle through the lagoon’s treasures.  

Visit Chacahua National Park

If you’re looking for an authentic national park in the vicinity of Puerto Escondido, check out Chacahua.

The National Park is about an hour away. Once you get to the lagoon, you have to take a boat to reach the main beach. The area is secluded and a beautiful spot to relax on the beach or surf. Some people stay overnight, but you can easily visit Chacahua on a day trip. 

Go on a Day Trip to Huatulco

Huatulco Bays is a well-known natural area south of Puerto Escondido. The region is home to several national parks, beaches, and authentic villages.

There are nine different bays, and you can visit all of them on a day trip from Puerto Escondido – or spend a few nights there. The region has everything from all-inclusive resorts to small hostels. 

You can go on an organized tour or hop on a bus. Omnibus Cristobal Colon (OCC) operates five routes per day.

Santa Maria de Huatulco Beach
Beach in Huatulco / Unsplash

Enjoy some Puerto Escondido Activities in the Jungle: ATV and Horseback Riding

Riding a horse or an ATV through the jungle is undoubtedly among the coolest things to do in Puerto Escondido. 

You can find tours online or on the spot, and many of them feature a combination of rafting, ATV, and horseback riding. 

Puerto Escondido Guide: Where to Stay in Puerto Escondido 

If you’re visiting the state of Oaxaca for the first time, you’ll wonder where to stay in Puerto Escondido. The city’s layout is a bit confusing, and its numerous neighborhoods attract different types of travelers. Here are the best areas to stay in Puerto Escondido.

La Punta/Brisas de Zicatela

Located on the southern edge of Puerto Escondido – Zicatela, this is the backpacker hotspot. You’ll find tons of hostels and hotels here as well as lots of nightlife spots. Better still, you’ll be at the marvelous Playa Zicatela, the largest beach in the area. 

Central Puerto Escondido

The central strip in Puerto Escondido attracts tourists of all kinds. There are lots of hotels and hostels here, as well as several beaches. 

The center is a bit more family-friendly than Zicatela, and you’ll find lots of Mexican holidaymakers here. Nevertheless, there are also a lot of hostels and nightlife locations in centro.

Puerto Escondido guide - Playa Angelito rocks
Rocks at Puerto Angelito Beach

Full Puerto Escondido Guide: FAQ

To complete our Puerto Escondido guide, here are some frequently asked questions.

Is Puerto Escondido Safe? 

Puerto Escondido is generally safe but beware of the common dangers of tourist hotspots. Pickpocketing is a problem, and the streets aren’t well-lit at night. Armed robberies are rare but not unheard of. 

All in all, I would qualify Puerto Escondido as safe for Mexican standards, but there is a bit more delinquency than in cities like Puebla or Puerto Vallarta

What’s the Best Time to Visit Puerto Escondido

The Oaxacan coast is warm all year round, but the rainy season is from May to November. However, the area is a lot drier than other parts of the Mexican Pacific. As such, the wet season doesn’t have daily torrential rain. 

While the rainy season isn’t the best time to visit Puerto Escondido, the waves are best during this period. Consequently, July to October is peak surf season.

How Are English Levels in Puerto Escondido? 

Puerto Escondido relies on tourism, and many hotels and hostels employ foreigners. As a consequence, you won’t have too much trouble here if you don’t speak Spanish. 

Nevertheless, knowing the basics is more than recommendable if you’re traveling to Mexico in general. 

How Developed is Puerto Escondido?

Even though Puerto Escondido has been a popular tourist destination for several decades, the city is a lot less developed than other Mexican beach towns. 

Many areas have nothing more than sand and dirt roads, and hot water isn’t a given. In that same vein, the Wifi is poor (more on that later). 

In short, don’t expect Cancun levels of infrastructure if you’re traveling to Puerto Escondido. 

Is Puerto Escondido a Suitable Destination For Remote Workers? 

For some digital nomads in Mexico, yes. For others, not at all. 

Let me explain: the Wifi is terrible in Puerto Escondido. On this basis, if you need fast Wifi to get work done, you won’t find your luck here. 

However, many remote workers want a super chilled-out location and don’t rely on fast Wifi so much. Especially if you like to hang out with backpackers – and lean more toward the hipster culture, you’ll love Puerto Escondido. 

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